They Probably Did the Best They Could
By Mary R. Dittman, M.B.A.
Most of us can look back on something our parents did - or didn’t - do and wish it had been different.
My mom confided to me recently that watching my brother and his wife raise their two children is very different from the way she and my dad raised us.
“We just didn’t know what you know now,” she said. “We followed the most current advice and the best practices at the time, but now there’s so much more knowledge and information I wish we’d had.”
It’s true. Forty years later, people raise their children differently than many of us were raised.
Maybe you don’t have any issues about how you were raised - that’s great. This may not be for you, or you may be able to apply it to another situation in your life.
I’ve had a number of men complain about women’s baggage - it’s the bitterness and the drama they are lugging around from their past. It’s not that they have children or an ex-husband, it’s the weighed-down vibe you give off when you haven’t cleaned up your own past.
Even if your parents are deceased or unknown to you, you have to forgive them. Forgiveness doesn’t mean reconciliation. You can forgive and NOT have a relationship with the person.
The reason you want to forgive your parents is because the relationship you have with them is the prototype for the relationships you have with all other men and women. And you want to be light, free, and clean, and able to get into (or out of) relationships with as much ease as possible.
Here are some ideas to help you forgive your parents:
Your parents were responsible for you for 18 years. Maybe less, but legally, 18 years. Past that, you have been responsible for you, and if you’re 40, that means you have been in charge of you for 22 years. That’s four years longer than your parents had you. So, anything in your life right now is probably on you.
“Well, they messed me up for 18 years so I am screwed up for life,” you may say.
Let’s say your dad was absent. Maybe he left, maybe he worked all the time, maybe he died. Maybe he was just emotionally unavailable.
What can be done about that NOW? Even if he wanted to, he can’t go back and change not being there for you. Even if he apologized and did everything he can moving forward, if your belief is that his past action (or inaction) is what messed you up, it wouldn’t even matter what he did NOW. Are you with me? The damage is done and he can’t fix it. Stop expecting him to. No matter what happened, it’s your mess now, and YOU have to clean it up.
Nobody gets a growth-free life. Even if someone had an idyllic childhood, they got mistreated somewhere else. Maybe they were bullied as a child, maybe their friends betrayed them, maybe their marriage fell apart.
Part of the human experience is learning how to deal with the wounds that we incur as we live. Maybe your issue is your mom; someone else’s issue may be her sister. Someone else’s may be a daughter or an assailant of some kind.
Even if the only thing you learned from your parents was what NOT to do, at least you got something!
Maybe you learned how to take care of yourself. Maybe you learned the importance of communication because you never witnessed it. Maybe you understand how important it is to hug your kids.
One friend of mine heard his sister saying their dad never complimented her growing up and my friend realized he doesn’t compliment his own daughter on her beauty. He didn’t want her to think her only value was in her looks, but now he tells her how beautiful she is because he understands it’s important for his little girl to hear that from daddy so she doesn’t seek it out from other men! His sister’s experience changed that family’s dynamic!
If you went through severe physical or emotional trauma with your parents (or someone else), you may not be able to navigate forgiveness alone. Get some help! Find a therapist, a spiritual advisor, a support group. Journal, meditate, write letters that you never send - whatever you need to do to let it go and move on.
Part of living a One-Derful Life is dropping the baggage from the past so you are available to the blessings NOW.
It’s hard to move on if you are struggling with heartache. If that’s you, check out our ABC’s of Healing. This free video will show you how to heal from a broken heart so you can clean up that mess and start enjoying your life!
Question: have you forgiven your parents?
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